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Nursing homes can prevent wandering in dementia patients

When you met with your parent's doctor, you may have been upset to hear the diagnosis of dementia from Alzheimer's, stroke, Parkinson's disease or another cause. The symptoms related to dementia often progress to the point where the one suffering from the condition can no longer remain in the home without 24-hour care.

This may be what prompted you to find a skilled facility that has a designated area for those with dementia. Typically, these facilities have specially trained staff members and safeguards in place to protect your parent from one of the most serious side effects of dementia: wandering.

Protecting your loved one

In nursing homes, the staff often refers to the wandering of a resident with dementia as elopement. When a resident elopes, he or she has left the safe confines of the building. In many cases, the resident may get no farther than the grounds of the facility. However, some cases of elopement end tragically with residents wandering into traffic, falling into water, or becoming lost for days and succumbing to exposure. You want to be certain your loved one's facility takes every precaution to avoid such disasters, including:

  • Conducting a thorough assessment of your loved one's potential for wandering
  • Determining whether your parent follows a pattern, such as wandering at the same time each day, after visitors leave, when hungry, or when he or she needs to use the rest room
  • Assigning the same staff members to care for you parent because they are familiar with your loved one's patterns
  • Scheduling caregivers to monitor and check on your parent at frequent intervals throughout the day
  • Installing alarms on doors, or including ankle or bracelet alarms that alert staff when your parent is trying to escape
  • Providing activities that are mentally stimulating and keep your parent calm and occupied

These are only a few of the most basic precautions a New Mexico nursing home staff can take to protect your loved one and other residents who suffer from the effects of dementia. One method of preventing wandering no nursing home should ever take is using chemical restraints, which means drugging your loved one so he or she is incapable of getting around.

If your parent is not receiving quality care in a nursing home, you may have many questions and concerns. You may be noticing signs of neglect -- such as unsupervised wandering, or abuse -- such as overmedication. You would be wise to bring these concerns to the attention of the nursing home staff and consult an attorney about your legal options.

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